Image Explorations 2016: A Photographer’s Boot Camp

“Time flies when you’re having fun!” For the most part time has flown by and I am having fun especially since I’ve parked my golf clubs in a dark corner of my garage. I now spend much of that ‘found time’ out and about with my camera, processing images and writing. I still make sure that I get to the gym and play lots of pickleball. Exercise and fitness remain important.

It’s hard to believe that this year’s edition of Image Explorations is fast approaching. This will be my fourth year of attendance at IE. It has become a very important aspect of my photographic learning process. Designed for professional and serious amateurs it offers very specific and intensive workshops on such topics as portrait lighting, advance software techniques and fine art photography. In essence it is a boot camp.

Image Explorations takes place at the Shawnigan Lake School in Shawnigan Lake, B.C. Attendees stay in the dormitory rooms, have their meals and socialize in the great hall and do their class work in the school’s classrooms. A small pond on the property is perfect background material for portrait courses and for free time photography. Some instructors take their students off property to locations relevant to their course topic.

Not knowing what to expect when I first attended IE I chose a software course. I knew that this was an area I really needed help with. It soon became apparent that not only was it a good choice but also that I was well behind the curve. Where all other participants were working with Photoshop, I was using Photoshop Elements and I should say, not very well. I persevered. By the end of the course I had learned a lot and  I understood the necessity of moving to the full Photoshop world. I also realized that I learned a lot and wanted to continue learning. I would be back.

Last year, I participated in a course offered by well-known photographer and artist, Laurie Klein. Her class last year took participants outside their comfort zone. Her goal was to help her students understand their own visual voice in the images they make. I enjoyed her so much  that when I discovered she was returning this year I registered again for her course.

I’m looking forward to returning to Image Explorations next week and interacting with a great group of photographers and artists.

Micah Rattink devotes full attention to his art.

Micah Rattink devotes full attention to his art.

I chose this image of artistic blacksmith, Micah Rattink, for this blog post as I think it demonstrates how my learning process has helped me realize my photographic vision. It was taken at the Okanagan Antique Tractor and Machinery Fair held in Kelowna, B.C. about a month ago. Out of the camera, this image was flat and uninteresting.  I used Nik Software’s Viveza and it U point technology to separate the subject from the background and to emphasize Micah’s face and the object of his attention, a piece of red hot steel.

It was a very hot day and even more so around his forge and anvil. I thought that an edgy look would emphasize the feeling of heat and concentration that this image evokes. I found a filter in Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4 to provide the required edginess.

Overall, I think I successfully captured the feeling of the moment.

This entry was posted in Education, My Work.


  1. Michael July 15, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    Another good article, Stu. Image Explorations, or IE as we call it, has been helping photographers develop their vision for many years. It’s not for the faint of heart, but is hugely rewarding.

    • Stu Dale July 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

      Thanks Michael. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not attended IE.

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